Plastic loaded and flats on feet? Experts tell Belinda Jackson where the bargains are in Asia.
It’s official: Hong Kong is the hottest shopping neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The food, the shopping, the views, the energy, the noise, the waterways – HK’s alive and buzzing 24/7,” says design tracker Anne-Maree Sargeant, on our panel of shopping experts who share their secret haunts and favourite hot spots in the region’s top 10 shopping cities, according to a Global Shopper survey (globeshopperindex.com).
The cities were chosen based on their visitor numbers – Sydney is the only Australian city to make the list – and each city was marked out of 100 based on its affordability, shops, convenience, hotels, transport, climate and culture.
1. Hong Kong, 69/100
What’s hot Best in show for its fashion, electronics, watches and jewellery. 83/100 for the shops.
What’s not Pricey hotels that are permanently booked out. 58/100 for retail affordability.
The address book
Hit Cat Street Gallery for emerging and mid-career artists (thecatstreetgallery.com
) and the inaugural Hong Kong art fair (May 23- 26, 2013), run by the hugely influential new owners Art Basel and Design Miami (hongkongartfair.com
). Stylish superstore Lane Crawford is stacked with luxury brands and designer offerings. Check the capsule store featuring furniture and lighting from favourite Brit designer Lee Broom (lanecrawford.com
). Get your fix of Harvey Nicks at The Landmark, the Asian Harvey Nichols flagship store for revered luxury and designer offerings (blog.harveynichols.com.hk
). Monocle Shop is the first of a new “retail/news” concept for British style tome Monocle (shop.monocle.com
The 117-room Upper House hotel, designed by architect Andre Fu, sits above Pacific Place Shopping Mall, Admiralty, Hong Kong Island (upperhouse.com
2. Kuala Lumpur 65/100
The insider Belinda Jackson, travel writer and former international shopping columnist.
Low prices in great malls and off-the-scale seasonal sales. 76/100 for shops.
What’s not Sticky climate and few attractions. 50/100 for climate and culture.
The address book
Malaysians do shoes, led by the master, Jimmy Choo, in luxe mall Suria KLCC (jimmychoo.com
). The new Choo is said to be Lewre Lew, found in Parkson department stores (lewre.com
). Buy batik shoes from Jimmy’s fave designer, Fion Poon, in the Central Market (fionpoon.com
). Brothers Charles and Keith Wong’s Charles & Keith are unmissable for affordable, high-style shoes and accessories (charleskeith.com
). For stingray clutches, head to Klutched in Mid Valley Megamall (klutched.com
). High-energy Low Yat Plaza has every computer invention at one-third of the price of Singapore, with one floor dedicated just to repairs (plazalowyat.com
). KL is justly famous for its malls – hit the strip of Bukit Bintang for big-dollar Starhill and Suria KLCC, chic Pavilion, street-smart Fahrenheit88, Lot 10 and perennial bargain fave Sungei Wang.
The Westin Kuala Lumpur is at the start of Bukit Bintang, making it ideal for shoppers (starwoodhotels.com
3. Shanghai 63/100
Fashion designer Alex Zabotto-Bentley and events director Anna Patterson of AZBcreative (azbthecreative.com
What’s hot International brands, affordable hotels and long shopping hours. 84/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Nasty sales taxes. 59/100 for affordability.
The address book
Spend a weekend afternoon at the iconic Dong Tai Lu Antiques Markets. Enter from Xizang Lu into Liuhe Lu, near Xintiandi, and haggle. Spin has amazing handmade ceramics: think industrial chic meets a Chinese art gallery (360 Kangding Lu, near Shanxi Bei Lu). Casa Pagoda is the ultimate in East meets West, with exotic fabrics, old lost-and-found furniture and homewares (casapagoda.com
). We love Madame Mao’s Dowry for womenswear and Chinese kitsch for the home (madamemaosdowry.com
). The streets Xinle Lu and Changle Lu in the French Concession have amazing women’s fashion, cafes and art deco furniture. Try The Villa for high-end international fashion (shopthevilla.com
For immaculate location and architecture, stay at the Waterhouse at South Bund (designhotels.com
4. Beijing 61/100
Still-life master and photographer Dieu Tan (dieutan.com
What’s hot Long shopping hours, top World Heritage sites and good hotels. 84/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Limited foreign languages spoken and few deals. 49/100 for shops.
The address book Hunt hard for genuine Chinese antiques among the reproductions at Panjiayuan antique market (21 Dongsanhuan Nanlu, Chaoyang District). Spend a day or two in Dashanzi Art District’s galleries looking at Modern Chinese art. Most work is for sale, so visit the UCCA gallery shop (2 Jiuxiangqiao Lu, Chaoyang District). Sanlitun Village is one of the hippest areas in town, with ultra-luxe brands with a Beijing edge (19 and 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District). The Gulou/Houhai area houses the traditional Beijing hutong style of architecture, some of which is converted into stylish shops for local art, home deco, tea, fashion and accessories (Gulou Dong Da Jie, Dongcheng District). The Sanyuanli food market is where many Western restaurants and international grocery stores buy wholesale (Shunyuan Jie, west of Sanyuan Dongqiao, Chaoyang District).
Fly Sydney to Beijing direct with Air China (airchina.com.au
Hotel G is a 110-room hotel in the Sanlitun district. Workers’ Stadium West Road, Chaoyang District (mrandmrssmith.com
5. Singapore 60/100
What’s hot Safe, culturally diverse and convenient. 71/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Pricey hotels and high transport costs. 50/100 for affordability.
The address book
Expect cups, trinkets and objects you didn’t know you had to have until you saw them at gallery-store Little Drom Store (thelittledromstore.com
). Red Dot Design Museum’s Design Journey is an excursion to 18 of the city’s most design-oriented places (red-dot.sg/museum
). Locals dress their spaces with Miles & Theodore’s modernistic offerings from Copenhagen’s Massproductions, France’s Revol and Carpet Reloaded floor coverings (milesandtheodore.com
). Go for the rose-petal tea; go for the marmalade; go for the vintage selection: Carpenter & Cook is a tea room that trades vintage curios, furniture and kitchenware (carpenterandcook.com
Every room in the New Majestic Design Hotel differs, the service is great and the rooms are energising. (31-37 Bukit Pasoh, newmajestichotel.com
6. Sydney 58/100
The insider Style queen Melissa Penfold, author of Australian Style and co-author of Melissa Penfold’s Little Black Book: Sydney’s Shopping Secrets.
What’s hot Great weather, cultural attractions. 71/100 for climate, culture.
What’s not Short trading hours, costly hotels and tricky visas. Bargain central, it’s not. 34/100 for affordability.
The address book
The Country Trader has hundreds of antique-look table accessories in silver, glass, china and wood (thecountrytrader.com.au
), while Spence & Lyda’s glam new showroom is the place for Missoni Home linen (spenceandlyda.com.au
). Double Bay’s Transvaal Avenue is hot right now: start at My Island Home for Caribbean living style, African home lovelies at Doveton Kay Interiors, or French pretties at Maison et Jardin. Jan Logan Jewellery has great taste at sensible prices (janlogan.com
) and Anny Lada Jewellery is the celebs’ source of big, affordable, shell-based South Sea pearls (shop 37, 22 Knox Street). Top Australian fashion designers reside at The Intersection in Paddington, with Acne and Bassike for brill basics. At Robert Burton, get French Cire Trudon candles, fab Bensimon sneakers and Petit Bateau womenswear (robertburtonshop.com
Getting there By cab or bus.
Everyone’s talking about Sydney’s newest hotel, QT in the heart of the city (qtsydney.com.au
7. Bangkok 57/100
What’s hot Fun street markets, great hotels and spectacular food. 69/100 for affordability.
What’s not Dodgy counterfeits. 50/100 for culture and climate.
The address book
Monte Carlo tailors isn’t a cheap option, but the staff do provide fantastic quality and service. Expect to pay $300-$1000 for a suit, depending on the cloth (mctailor.com
). I can’t recommend Fotofile in the MBK Centre highly enough for its professional camera equipment and unsurpassed knowledge and service. Try and talk to Khun Kong for the best service (fotofile.net
). Pantip Plaza has every piece of computer equipment you’ll ever need, but know your prices first (604 New Petchaburi Road). For clothes, homewares and pretty much everything in the world, visit the Chatuchak weekend market. Get in early before the heat and crowds (chatuchak.org
) and shop for Thai silk at Narai Phand in the Royal Thai Government Handicrafts Centre (naraiphand.com
The new, wallet-friendly Aloft Bangkok is a quick tuk-tuk trip to Bangkok’s shopping strips (aloftbangkoksukhumvit11.com
8. Tokyo 56/100
What’s hot A great events calendar. 92/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Few sales and super-high hotel, transport and dining costs. 20/100 for affordability.
The address book Claska Gallery and Shop is the perfect destination to sample the best of local and international design makers and crafters (claska.com
). New York fashion store Opening Ceremony opened a Tokyo branch that’s a must-visit (openingceremony.us
). For beautifully chosen industrial vintage, visit Journal Standard Furniture (js-furniture.jp
). As the name says, I Find Everything Tokyo (ifindeverythingtokyo.com
). Fog Linen Work has been a recognisable brand in many boutique homeware stores throughout Australia, but nothing compares to visiting where it all began (foglinenwork.com
Getting there Fly Sydney to Tokyo direct with Qantas (qantas.com) or with Jetstar, via Gold Coast or Cairns (jetstar.com).
9. Seoul 55/100
Australian model Jessica Gomes, a bona fide superstar in Korea (iamjessicagomes.com
What’s hot Good mix of old markets and new boutiques. 66/100 for hotels and transport.
What’s not Dodgy weather and a challenging hotel scene. 43/100 for retail affordability.
The address book
The Galleria Department Store, in the Apgujeong-dong retail district, is super-modern and cool for international luxury brands. Dongdaemun Shopping Market is open from midnight until early morning. I love buying from young Korean designers who provide great quality at a good price. The Hyundai Department Store has a mixture of Korean and international labels, as well as a great food market. Green Street has cool hipster cafes and boutiques. Korea has great labels such as VOV (myvov.com
) and really good up-and-coming designers in the boutiques in Apgujeong-dong.
The IP Boutique Hotel is a quirky hotel in the expat Itaewon district (737-32 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu,ipboutiquehotel.com
10. Delhi 53/100
Interior stylist, creative director and owner of The Society Inc, Sibella Court (thesocietyinc.com.au
What’s hot Fabulous sights and haggling shopkeepers. 63/100 for affordability.
What’s not Weak for mall rats, tough visas and struggling transport. 40/100 for shopping.
The address book
The Full Circle Bookstore has every book of every author who has ever spoken or been a part of Jaipur’s incredible literary festival (fullcirclebooks.in
). The National Handicrafts & Handlooms Museum gives an insight into the skill and technique behind it all, and craftspeople sell their wares in the courtyard (nationalcraftsmuseum.nic.in
). Anokhi is great for the travelling basics – scarves, cotton pants – all lovely and affordable (www.anokhi.com
). I love the Chandni Chowk market in Old Delhi, especially the hardware section with all the vendors tinkering away. Kamayani has amazing handmade textiles from across India, selected with a superb eye (kamayani.in
The Manor is a stylish boutique hotel in New Friends Colony, with just 15 rooms and a lot of luxury (themanordelhi.com